Cory Aquino: 1933-2009

Former President Corazon Aquino, in a rally in 2006

I met Cory Aquino only once, before she found out she had cancer. The Foreign Correspondents of the Philippines (FOCAP) was trying to invite her as a speaker, ad the board of directors met with her. It was just a cordial meeting, not an on the record presser, and so no one wrote about what was said.
Yet what she said was very interesting. Continue reading


US plans on how to distribute swine flu vaccine

The New York Times has a story on how government is planning to distribute vaccine for the Influenza AH1N1.

Buti pa sa Amerika, nagpa-plano na sila kung paano, kanino at kailan ibibigay ang vaccine laban sa swine flu, kahit wala pang dumarating. Sa atin, wala nang balita mula sa Department of Health (DOH) tungkol sa swine flu, maliban sa panaka-nakang pag-amin ng mga DOH officials na naka-base sa probinsya na sila din, mayroon nang swine flu.
Ang huli kong balita (mga dalawang linggo na ang nakalilipas), isasama na lang ang bilang ng mga nagkakasakit ng swine flu sa mga tinatamaan ng ordinary flu. Kung kailan dumarami ang nagkakasakit at namamatay sa swine flu, saka naging mas lalong mahirap kumuha ng datos ang taong bayan.

Right of Reply forum

Former UP CMC dean Luis Teodoro and Atty. Harry Roque

CenterLaw, the Open Society and the UP Journalism Club held a forum on the Right of Reply Bill Tuesday morning at the UP College of Mass Communication. Short notes on the forum, to add to the ongoing discussion about the Right of Reply Bill. Continue reading

Why the VFA is not a treaty

In a recent forum at the UP College of Law, lawyers took turns explaining the Visiting Forces Agreement the Philippines has with the United States.
Former UP dean Pacifico Agabin explained the gist of the motion for reconsideration they filed with the Supreme Court, asking the Court to reconsider its position on the VFA as a treaty, in the light of new decisions made by the US Supreme Court. (click here to read the MR).
Lawyer Evalyn Ursua, on the other hand, took pains to explain factual errors in the decision that must be corrected.
On the Texas vs Medelin case, Agabin said, the US Supreme Court held that a treaty, even if ratified by the US Senate, may not be enforceable if it has not self-executory provisions. The RP-US VFA, on the other hand, was not ratified by the US Senate. Also, it was inequitable and discriminatory.
Ursua, on the other hand, pointed out that the Philippine Supreme Court’s decision said that the US asked for the custody of Smith, and it was given by the Philippine government. The reality, however, is the other way around, as proven by the DFA notes verbale asking the US embassy to turn over Smith to the Philippine government.
“Mahalaga ang accuracy of facts dahil mula pa man noon ang history natin puno ng distortion at kailangan i-correct ang distortion sa loob ng Supreme Court decision,” Ursua said.
Read on for my notes on the Junk VFA forum; again, these are not exact quotes and there are some mistakes. Use this for background information only, and always remember to verify. Continue reading

The Right of Reply Bill

On its face, the Right of Reply bill legalizes a right already recognized in practice by every self-respecting, ethical journalist: the individual’s right to air his/her side of the story. (Click here for both the House and Senate versions of the bill).
This is nothing but fairness, which is at the heart of every good journalistic piece. But not every journalist is fair, and not all stories are fair, say those who espouse and support the Right of Reply Bill.
But there are other problems with the bill, regardless of whether or not media is fair. Continue reading

The King of the Road

MMDA stopped traffic last Sunday along University Avenue in UP Diliman

The King of the Road

Filipinos don’t know how to obey when they’re in the Philippines, some commentaries say. Let us begin, some said before, by obeying authorities. Continue reading

The press is more free in Nicaragua, Kosovo, Thailand, and Malaysia

The Philippine media is not Asia’s most free. The Reporters san Frontiers ranks the Philippines 139th in its 2008 report on press freedom, down from its slot of 128th last year. The Philippines is below Malaysia, Thailand, and even Timor-Leste. It is several slots down from Chad and Sudan, where the report said that “the slender gains of the past few years in Chad (133rd) and Sudan (135th) were swept away by the overnight introduction of censorship.” (click here to read the full report).It is several slots down from “Gabon (110th), Cameroon (129th), Morocco (122nd), Oman (123rd), Cambodia (126th), Jordan (128th) and Malaysia (132nd), [where] it is strictly forbidden to report anything that reflects badly on the president or monarch, or their family and close associates.”
The Philippines is way below Senegal, ranked 86th, and Algeria (121st) where “journalists are routinely sent to prison under repressive legislation that violates the democratic standards advocated by the UN.” Continue reading